Salmon Arm’s Shelley Desautels is the Liberal Party of Canada candidate for the North Okanagan-Shuswap. (Contributed)

Salmon Arm’s Shelley Desautels is the Liberal Party of Canada candidate for the North Okanagan-Shuswap. (Contributed)

Salmon Arm resident aims to broaden community service as federal Liberal candidate

Shelley Desautels selected to represent party in North Okanagan-Shuswap riding

Shelley Desautels is ready to take her community service to the next level.

On June 1 it was announced the Salmon Arm resident had been named the Liberal Party of Canada’s candidate for the North Okanagan-Shuswap.

Born and raised in the region, Desautels has a history of giving back through work with various community groups and organizations in Salmon Arm. She is an advocate for the city’s BMX cycling community as a director with the Shuswap Cycling Club. Her talent as a singer won her top prize in Shuswap Idol at the 2015 Salmon Arm Fair, and she later served as a Shuswap Idol judge and organizer.

Desautels’ family has supported the Salmon Arm Silverbacks by billeting team members, while she has worked as a game night host and would start games off by singing the national anthem.

Desautels also assists veterans as a service officer with the Legion.

Her drive to support the community is a big part of what Desautels brings to the table as a federal Liberal candidate.

“If there’s an area that I see in need of something, whether it be sports or a group needs assistance, or there’s something missing, I want to be able to put my effort into that,” said Desautels. “I have the time, I have the energy to help and to better the community. That’s why I do it. There’s no bigger agenda.”

A GIS (geographic information system) specialist, Desautels runs her own mapping company and teaches the GIS certificate program with Okanagan College. Her first foray into politics was a support role for former North Okanagan-Shuswap Liberal candidate Cindy Derkaz during her 2019 campaign.

When she learned the party was seeking a new candidate for the riding, Desautels turned to Derkaz.

“I called up Cindy and said, ‘Tell me I’m making a mistake, that I’m too busy or that I shouldn’t do this,’” said Desautels. “And she said absolutely not, you would be fantastic. I said, ‘OK, good enough for me.’”

Desautels said she chose to run for the Liberals because she was impressed with what the party has been doing to support Canadians.

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“What I like about them is they’re dedicated to helping regular people,” said Desautels. “They keep businesses running, they were able to provide people food for their families while everything was locked down and people weren’t working. So I want to work with a party that supports everyone, whether it’s businesses, individuals, you name it, they’re there to support.”

Key issues for Desautels are child care and housing. She said having affordable child-care spaces is vital for parents to be able to work, while investments are needed in the community to get housing that supports young families. Desautels noted these needs are connected to labour shortages within the region.

“How can we boost those people to get back to work – That’s going to be getting them childcare and getting them housing,” said Desautels.

Progress around truth and reconciliation is also a key concern for Desautels. She said she’s already been in contact with Minister of Indigenous Services Mark Miller, and has stressed this is an extremely important issue for Canadians.

Western alienation is another of Desautels’ concerns. She says it is real, and one of her goals is to put the North Okanagan-Shuswap firmly on Ottawa’s radar.

“We have so much to contribute and I really want Ottawa to understand that…,” said Desautels. “As an example, we have so many amazing farms here that produce local food, and we need to make sure those local farms are protected… We need to protect those kind of industries that are unique to a riding such as ours.”

If, in the near future, federal election is called, Desautels wants voters to focus on her and what she can bring to and do for the riding.

“I want to try and get people to think of this not as a voting for a party, but voting for a candidate, someone that’s going to be able to bring changes to the community…,” said Desautels.
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